by Tiffany Markman, mom, wife, writer, trainer, speaker, over-thinker, coffee drinker. Visit tiffanymarkman.co.za for more.

A coronavirus so contagious that you think twice about hugging and kissing your own child? This is not something I ever thought I’d live to see. I mean, it’s in the movies all the time. But that’s all made up, right? Nope. Working on surviving COVID-19 beats even fiction.

I’d love to pretend that, in this article, I can offer you sage and brilliant advice on surviving COVID-19 amid school closures, keeping your job, providing for those who rely on you, remaining safe and healthy, and still maintaining a sense of humour.

But, I can’t.

All I can do is share some of the nuggets of optimism, realism and creativity that are currently working for us. I hope that you glean some goodness from them.

Surviving COVID-19 | A child in a red sweater plays indoors

1. Gratitude floods give perspective.

This is where you take a clean sheet of paper and a pen, and jot down all of the things you’re grateful for, every couple of days. I start with the things close to me (kid, desk, pets) and then zoom out (house, family, neighbourhood). Then I zoom out again and again and again. This gives a very gratifying list.

2. Scheduling gives us direction.

This is why I’ve forced the two kids in this house to stick to a daily plan. One each. It contains a list of things they must do (care for pets and wash hands), things I want them to do (an hour of reading, an hour of outdoor play, 30 mins of creative work or crafting or music or audiobooks), and things their schools want them to do (my 9 year old has little to no work aside from journaling and our 16 year old will be glued to the dining room table for at least 2 hours a day). There’s also an allocation, if all the other stuff is done, for educational TV and what I call ‘relaxing TV’, which they can exchange for YouTube or gaming. But only in the afternoons. If there’s moaning, whining or disturbing me while I’m working, the TV allocations disappear.

Side note: The kids are currently ‘making their own lunch’. I can hear the chaos and a fair bit of arguing, and I’m too afraid to open my office door. Good thing the idea of the mess has zapped my appetite completely, because no-one’s offered me a taste.

3. Social media isn’t helping, at all.

I’m deriving comfort from my friends and family, via WhatsApp groups, but Facebook, Twitter and Flipboard – my staples – are making me anxious. I’ve also unfollowed a lot of alarmist Instagram accounts, opting for art and animals instead.

4. I need to read quality content.

Like this blog post by Nicola Aylward. And good books. And good podcasts. Nothing apocalyptic tho’. And I’m working hard to think (and fact-check) before sharing COVID-19 content, opting instead for info from the official authorities – like WHO, CDC, NICD, etc.

5. Exercise, movement, meditation

We’ve not yet managed, if I’m honest, to spend any meaningful time exercising. But it is on my ‘surviving COVID-19’ agenda. There are also some great apps out there to help with this.

6. Remaining close and connected

I’ve reached out to a couple of mom friends, to suggest ‘Skype playdates’ for our kids. I’ve trialled this with my daughter and her US cousins over the years, and it works pretty well, especially when Lego is involved. But I’m also very aware that I’ll need ‘e-playdates’ too – and I had a fantastic one with two besties last night. Given the time differences (we’re spread across three countries), it was very late at night. A fair bit of wine was consumed, and we laughed til we cried. I needed it.

7. We’ve had tough conversations. 

We had a serious sit-down with our helper, around hand-washing, face-touching, germs, what to do if she feels ill, and paid sick leave as a given. There’s a good chance that we will also pay our gardener to stay away, for at least a month. (But only once we’ve planted my autumn seedlings, because these are a big part of my fresh-fruit-and-veggie plan for the upcoming season. Now’s the time, if you have the inclination, to get edible gardening underway. You don’t need a lot of space or money for this, and you can even use a wall-mounted pallet or a raised 1mx1m bed).

8. Next up: hard-line budgeting

I’m very conscious of the fact that, while it’s currently business as usual for me, my husband-the-actor may be facing the quietest patch of his career. And my work could dry up at any time, tho’ I don’t think it will. But whatever happens, we need to conserve our financial and other resources. The biggest priority on my ‘surviving COVID-19’ list at the moment is a brutal examination of our expenses, to squeeze all the juice out of them. Capex projects for the house – we were about to re-do our flooring – are on hold. And we won’t be buying anything unnecessary or anything that can wait.

So there it is.

Let’s keep talking.

We need the connection, and we need the comfort. You may find some on Jozikids’ Facebook page, as well, and please share your own valuable nuggets below! As always, if you haven’t already, please subscribe to our free weekly newsletter. It will link you to our usual insights, deals and info, plus a host of new online services to help keep kids occupied.

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